Arran Banner letters – week 19

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Opening up

Sir,

I live on the island and have worked here in the past. I have been involved with security on the mainland concerning threat and risk assessment.

I have recently been advising jewellery businesses on how to operate safely when lockdown restrictions are lifted. I take into account the threat, which is COVID-19 and assess the risks to the area by looking at statistics of cases and then looking at ways of restarting the business within guidelines of health and safety for staff and customers.

Arran has a low threat of COVID due to its unique location of being an island and the risks are extremely low because of the lack of visitors. Also there seems to be very few cases on the island. It is difficult to get actual figures of cases because Arran is combined with North Ayrshire.

If there have been a few cases and with none in the last two weeks, the opportunity is there, within safe guidelines, for businesses to re-open to islanders in my opinion. The risks go up if tourism is allowed to restart, but visitors to the island should have had basic body temperature checks at least, weeks ago.

I am currently waiting to hear about COVID-19 and antibody test kits that are cheap at £30 and easy to use with instant results. Why the government has taken so long to get testing going is beyond me.

To clarify my point. Pubs and other businesses could easily re-open  with some rudimentary social distancing. Measures such as body temperature checks at ingress, with a handheld monitor that cost £60, would need to be in place. And I would suggest no hanging around at the bar and widely spaced tables. Beer gardens, now the weather is better, should primarily be used.

My daughter, who lives near Ipswich, says her local pub is doing a thriving trade in take-out dinners and drinks, with trading standards endorsing the pub serving food and drink out of the serving hatch for a limited amount of people in the beer garden.

It is time to think positively about post lockdown. Let’s get Arran up and running safely again.

Yours,

Richard Elliot, Kildonan.

Start again 

Sir,

Roy Pederson, ferry expert and author of ‘Who pays the ferryman?’, posted recently in the Sunday Herald a damning account of the status of the ferry replacement programme.

Amongst many indictments, he stated: ‘The original (very high) £97 million contracted price for the two ferries is now estimated at more than £300 million. What has not been mentioned, however, is that, as these over-specified vessels cannot berth at existing terminals, a further £120 million has been earmarked for terminal alterations. This means the total cost for these two replacement ferries is now approaching half a billion pounds.’

He concludes his polemic with the recommendation to ‘scrap Glen Sannox and 802 and start again with more sensible spec vessels’.

How we got to this point will I hope be a matter for an independent public enquiry. However as a frequent user of the ferry, I’m primarily interested in a resolution.

But it seems to me our politicians have dived for cover, kicked this issue into the long grass and allowed COVID-19 to dominate the headlines.

It would be helpful to have a clear understanding of what actions are being taken, what deliverables will be available and in what timescale. As well as what risk management and risk containment plans are being developed, especially to handle the interregnum, given it is clear our existing lifeline ferry service is not fit for purpose.

As this is a devolved issue, perhaps our constituency MSP could find these answers on our behalf.

Yours,

Douglas Templeton, Whiting Bay.

Businesses shortchanged

Sir,

The story about the SNP government giving grants to businesses to help them survive the pandemic is misleading (Arran Banner, May 1).

The SNP government received money for grants from the UK Government, in the form of a £2.2 billion cash boost, with a further £600 million to be added. That means the money comes from the British government, not the SNP.

Furthermore, it is worth noting two Scottish companies, Bruce Taverns and Kilimanjoro Coffee, are seeking a judicial review into why the SNP government will only give Scottish business chains a one-off grant of £25,000, regardless of how many business properties they operate, whereas business chains in England and Wales can receive up to £25,000 per property.

As an example, the owner of three coffee shops in Scotland will be getting  £25,000, whereas an owner of three coffee shops in England or Wales will get £75,000.

Scotland has received the same amount of financial aid from the Chancellor  Rishi Sunak. So the question is: ‘Why is the SNP government not treating Scottish businesses the same as businesses are being treated in Wales and England?’
Yours,

Beverley Scott, Whiting Bay.

SNP putsch

Sir,

The Scotland Act 1998 created the devolved Scottish parliament and the Scottish government, containing several political parties.

It was therefore with concern I read in the May 1 Arran Banner that ‘Grants from the SNP government to help businesses survive the coronavirus pandemic totalling £13.87 million have been awarded to 1,246 businesses across North Ayrshire, including Arran’.

When exactly was the putsch whereby the nationalists ceased the Scottish parliament?

Yours,

P W Yates, Catacol.